Creating an estate plan allows an individual in Pennsylvania to set out expectations for their personal, professional and financial future. Unfortunately taking on the task of creating and maintaining an estate plan intimidates some people, even to the point where they never do it at all.

It’s important that all prudent planners sit down with financial and legal professionals to strategize and plan for their futures. It isn’t the daunting task many perceive it to be, so consider the benefits of comprehensive and inclusive estate planning. With no plan in place or an improperly prepared plan, the probate process may end up in a litigious, tense battle between loved ones in a time of grief.

Mistake #1 No plan at all

Probably the biggest and most common estate planning mistake is failing to create a plan in the first place. Often people choose not to create a plan because of a misunderstanding of the purpose of estate planning. Contrary to what too many believe, estate planning is not just for established, older individuals.

Single persons in their 20s and 30s should also consider creating an initial estate plan, even before some of life’s bigger milestones occur. Every person’s life develops in its own way, which means your future plans are not the same as everyone else’s. Don’t leave your affairs to the discretion of a judge or the courts. At the very least, create a will for the purposes of designating important roles such as guardians for children, executors and beneficiaries.

Mistake #2 Hiding the plans

No longer is it sufficient to hide important documents under a mattress or in a locked desk drawer. Estate planning documents such as a will and living trust need to be in the care of financial and legal professionals who will need these documents to properly execute the estate. It’s wise to keep copies for yourself in a secure location, but be sure someone reliable and professional has access as well.

In addition to physical accessibility, your long-term plans should also be accessible conversation amongst those who need to know. Discuss your wishes and intentions with those in your life who will be around when these decisions come into play. It may feel difficult to discuss these topics with loved ones, but it’s best to have informed parties going into probate to avoid litigation and contested plans.

Mistake #3 Doing it yourself

As tempting as it may be, creating an estate plan without the help of professionals can be a detrimental error. A template will from the internet can’t possibly include every necessary element of your unique estate needs. Do-it-yourself estate plans often don’t hold up in court and can lead to difficulty and even failure to execute the estate as intended.

Make the investment in your future and consult financial and legal resources for estate planning in Pennsylvania. Taking a shortcut and cutting corners now can lead to a much more difficult process down the line. Consider the importance of your future plans and work to avoid disputes with prudent planning now.